Medford in 1902

    Medford is the second town in size in Jackson County, occupies a central position to the agricultural region, is a place of much enterprise, is rapidly growing, does an extensive business, and is well equipped with schools and other things required to make a prosperous and lively town. Medford's position will always give it an importance in Southern Oregon. A large ditch is now in course of construction which is intended ultimately to carry the waters of Butte Creek around the foothills of the valley for irrigation purposes, and to supply Medford with the necessary quantity of excellent water for all purposes, domestic and irrigation.
"Jackson County," Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1902, page 22

    This, the "queen" city of Rogue River Valley, is the most centrally and naturally located of all the towns of the valley. It is situated on the west bank of the Bear Creek, on the line of the S.P.R.R.--in the very heart of the valley--surrounded by a country of surpassing beauty, rivaling in picturesqueness the grandeur of the highlands of Scotland, equaling in loveliness the beauty of the alpine valleys. It has a population of nearly 2500 industrious, wide-awake citizens.
    The business houses of Medford are nearly all of large dimensions and solidly built of brick and are filled with large stocks of varied assortment and at prices differing little from those of the largest coast cities. All branches of trade, industry and professions are ably and well represented. Medford is a city of "schools and churches." All the denominations are represented and have comfortable accommodations and buildings.
Medford Board of Trade, "A Few Facts Concerning the Famous Rogue River Valley, Oregon," [1902], SOHS 1963.181.4; M44 A5

    The next town of importance in the Rogue River Valley is Medford, of which I have spoken in some detail in connection with orchard development. Medford came into existence as the inheritor of the trade dropped by Jacksonville when the railroad passed her by, and it has grown largely through the development of the horticultural interest, of which it is the center. Medford is a strictly business town. It has not, like Ashland, the charm of surrounding mountains and of dashing waters. Its importance rests upon the fact that it is the point on the railroad most convenient to the agricultural industry of the country. It is essentially a farmers' town, and it makes a business of serving the farmers' interest. The population of Medford is in the neighborhood of 2500--this with no favors from the railroad in the form of special and direct patronage. Ashland, on the south, and Grants Pass, on the north, each as a division headquarters, holds a considerable railroad establishment and enjoys a very considerable local trade on the basis of the local "payroll." Medford complains at this, or at least sees her disadvantage in connection with it, but she looks to a future day when another shuffle of the cards will yield something to her ambition for distinction and profit as a railroad town.

"A. H.," "In Southern Oregon," Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 24, 1902, page 6

As We See Things.
    A walk out through any part of the city of Medford thoroughly convinces a Mail representative in the truthfulness of the old adage that "Nothing goes to show the solidity and substantiability [sic] of a town so much as does a good class of residences, all occupied." Men sometimes build business blocks for speculation in towns that do not demand them. In traveling over the country one frequently encounters a good, live and thrifty town in which there are empty business houses, but one never encounters a live business town where there are many empty residences, nor a dying or dead town where the residences are all full. When the residences are filled up as well as the business rooms, as in Medford, it shows that the people are here, and further, that they intend to stay. When people build fine residences they do so for the purpose of making permanent homes and, while thus speaking, it is well to say that business in Medford is represented by firms with large capital and energy. They carry immense stocks of everything in their lines, and their prices are always at the lowest notch. Anything that can be found in a city can be had in Medford, for this enterprising place is quite metropolitan in its makeup. And again, while everything in and around this city bespeaks of enterprise and prosperity, just keep saying a good word for your town and patronizing your home merchants, and all will be well.
Medford Mail, November 21, 1902, page 2

    If present indications count for anything, the city of Medford bids fair to increase in wealth and population within the next few years to an extent hitherto unknown in its history. Founded eighteen years ago as a way station on the Southern Pacific, with the old established town of Jacksonville five miles west and Ashland twelve miles south, it has slowly grown, principally by its favorable geographical location almost in the center of the valley, until it has become one of the most important shipping points for the products of Jackson County. Very slow was that growth at first, but it has been steady all through. There has never been a boom in Medford, consequently no reaction. Even during the years of the "hard times," the growth of the town was not perceptibly checked. It has now reached the point when, conditions being favorable, it may be expected to expand into the chief city of Southern Oregon within a very few years.
    It is the opinion of the writer that those favorable conditions are present, and the reasons for this opinion we will endeavor to set forth below.
    The fruit industry, not in its infancy, it is true, but still far from having reached its full development, is one of the foundations of this opinion. Medford lies in the heart of one of the greatest fruit-growing districts in the known world. North, south, east and west for miles the soil is nearly all adapted to the successful growing of fruit. Only a comparatively small acreage of this land has been planted to fruit yet, but more and more is being put out each year, until eventually the central portion of the valley will become almost a solid orchard, interspersed with waving fields of alfalfa or gardens of small fruits. Medford, as said before, lies in the heart of this fruit-growing section, and is the natural shipping point for most of the products, and the trading place of nearly all the residents thereof. This reason alone would be sufficient upon which to base an opinion of Medford's future greatness, but there are others.
    Eastward, only a short five miles away, the Southern Pacific Company is delving into the earth seeking a bed of coal, which its geological experts, who have a record of sixteen years with never a failure behind them, have declared is there. As soon as the development work proceeds far enough, several hundred men will be employed. Medford will naturally be their trading point, and the coal from the mine will all pass through this city, as the nearest point on the main line. Coal near at hand and the favorable situation of the city as regards handling the freight traffic of the valley will unite to make Medford the proper place for the end of a railroad division, with all that means to a young and growing town. Another thing in this connection is the projected straightening and shortening of the Southern Pacific line from Myrtle Creek south. There have been mysterious movements going on in the mountains about the heads of Evans and Cow creeks, and should a railroad line be located through, the end of the first division south of Roseburg would naturally fall here.
    Along the slopes of the Cascade stretches a mighty body of the finest timber out of doors, which must be marketed in the not-distant future, and again Medford shows up as the natural shipping point for the products and trading point for the men engaged in this industry. The marketing of this timber means either an electric car line for transportation or the extension of the R.R.V.R.R. eastward. Its construction eastward will, as a correlative, be followed by a westward extension toward the coast into the rich valleys of the Applegate and the Illinois, and the consequent hauling of their products to the junction with the Southern Pacific line at Medford. Thus the entire trade of this productive region will pass through our city, making its future the brightest of any town in this part of the state.
    But we cannot sit supinely down and wait for these things to come. The citizens of the town have a great work to perform in this development. However much we may differ in other things, let us have but one cause when it comes to the upbuilding of the city. Let our first thought be how to best advance the interest of the community at large and thus benefit the city and help the cause of progress.
    Every new enterprise of merit should receive the hearty encouragement and support of every citizen. Don't throw cold water on a new business in the town. If you can't see anything good in it, keep still.
    The resources which will go toward making Medford a handsome and prosperous city of no small size are here, ready and anxious to do their part--needing only development. It lies with the people to encourage and foster that development.
Medford Mail, February 7, 1902, page 2

Resources that Are To Be Found in Rogue River Valley, and Serve To Make
This Section of Oregon the Most Desirable Place on Earth in Which To Dwell
    People in other parts of these United States are beginning to discover that there is such a state called Oregon, a section of that state called Southern Oregon, and that in Southern Oregon lies the Rogue River Valley and its tributaries. Inquiries concerning the products and resources of this section are received daily by one or another of our townspeople and real estate agencies, and the purpose of this article is to answer in a general way some of those inquiries.
    The products of the soil of the valley might well be said to be "anything you put in the ground, indigenous to the temperate zone," and its resources, undeveloped to a great extent as yet, "illimitable."
    To specify: All cereals, vegetables and small fruits find perfect conditions for growth in the climate and soil of the valley. Cabbage as big as a water bucket; potatoes, one of which will make a meal for a fair-sized family; tomatoes as large as a dessert plate; blackberries as big as your thumb and bursting with the richest and sweetest of juices; watermelons that would make a Georgia darkey forswear the product of his native state--all these are so common in Jackson County that old residents have ceased to be surprised by them, and are reminded of their existence only by the exclamations of eastern visitors. The markets of the world show in what esteem our apples are held. Oregon apples bring the highest price of any apples in the world's markets, and Southern Oregon apples are at the top of these. Prunes, pears, quinces, etc. grow to fabulous size and produce enormously, in fact, in anything like a favorable year orchardmen are obliged to thin their trees nearly 50 percent in order that the fruit may develop properly and that the trees may not be broken under its weight. The peaches of this valley have a reputation second to none in the United  States and always bring the top price in the markets.  In the foothills on the western side of the valley table grapes equal to any are raised, but the raisin and wine grapes have not yet been brought to perfection.
    In the surrounding mountains are smaller valleys where thousands of cattle and sheep find pasturage the year around, feeding is resorted to in rare instances only, excepting stock which is being fed for the market. Hogs find a ready market, at good prices. Poultry raising has not been extensively followed as yet, although during the holidays several thousand pounds of dressed fowls were shipped from Medford station alone.
    To sum up it may be said that everything grows well here, and there is no reason why this should not be a fact. The soil is as good as any that lies out of doors, and there is no more generally healthful climate on the face of the earth than that of Southern Oregon. We escape the torrid summers of the south and the frigid winters of the north. Nestled like a gem in the bosom of the mighty Cascades, a gentle, equable climate conduces to bring out the best in both man and products of the soil.
    But Southern Oregon does not depend entirely on agriculture or horticulture. We have mines--gold mines, coal mines, cinnabar mines, copper mines--almost any kind of a mine you want to look for. Placer claims in Southern Oregon which ave been worked for twenty years are still turning out their annual crop of the yellow metal and will continue to do so for years to come. The annual output of gold for Jackson County runs away up into the hundred thousands. Quartz mining has not been followed to any extent until within the past few years, but there are now a number of paying propositions which are being quietly worked by their owners, who are laying by a tidy sum with each cleanup. The mines of Southern Oregon have never been exploited nor advertised as have those of California, but they are here just the same. Oregon does not claim the title of "Golden State," yet locked in the recesses of her everlasting hills are stores of the precious metals that will one day bring her to the front rank among the mining states. Coal has been found in various places, and the Southern Pacific Company is now conducting extensive prospecting operations within a few miles of Medford. Quicksilver is also found, and a company is now opening up a prospect in the northern part of the county. Copper is found in Southern Oregon, and some work has been done in that line.
    There is now under way a ditch designed to be some forty miles in length, bringing the waters of Butte Creek into the valley proper. Eighteen miles of this ditch have already been completed, and the projectors expect to have water within a few miles of Medford by the middle of May next. This ditch will cover thousands of acres of land hitherto useless for anything except grazing purposes, but which, with water, is capable of producing large and varied crops.
    Various railway projects, for the purpose of tapping the timber belt and mining sections lying back in the mountains, although in an embryo state, will doubtless come to fruition as soon as developments and necessity require it.
    Last, but by no means least, are the forests. The mountains surrounding the Rogue River Valley are clothed from base to summit with waving forests of stately pines, firs, cedars and other varieties of merchantable timber. Practically untouched by the woodman's ax, this mighty belt of timber represents wealth almost incalculable and is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, natural resources of the country.
    In writing the above we have endeavored to take a conservative view of the brilliant future in store for Southern Oregon, and have confined the statements therein to the strict limit of the facts.
    The time is coming, and is not far distant, when all these varied resources will be developed, and Southern Oregon will enter on a career of prosperity, unequalled by the wildest dreams of the most enthusiastic.
Medford Mail, January 24, 1902, page 6

Last revised July 20, 2014